A quick note relating to COVID-19 restrictions in the Boulder County Court System: things are opening up somewhat, and we have heard reports that some jurisdictions are starting to do jury trials. In those cases, they’ve placed Plexiglass between jurors and around the witness box. We don’t know exactly how everything is being done (for example, it is not immediately clear how Courts are handling it when jurors go on recess to discuss the case), but generally, the Courts are taking care to adhere to social distancing guidelines and moving forward what cases they can.
It is safe to assume that your case may be conducted over video trial. If you are unsure as to whether now is the best time to pursue your case due to COVID concerns, please call our office at 303-449-1873 to set up a complimentary consultation with our team. Note that this is an ever-evolving situation and circumstances may change.
As of June 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the rate of unemployment in Colorado has hit 10.5%, ranking us 35th in the country for unemployment.1 That means that a lot of people are actively applying for jobs, making the hunt for employment even more competitive than usual.
It’s during times like these when candidates want to make themselves look as appealing as possible, and I start to get questions from potential clients like, “Can I hide my DUI or DWAI from a potential employer when they do the background check?”
The simple answer is… yes, no, and maybe so. Every situation is a little different, so let’s take a look.
Conviction is Permanent
Let’s put it out on the table: if you’re convicted of a DUI or a DWAI, it will be permanent on your record and you cannot seal it in Colorado. Other states may offer expungement (find more details in my previous blog post, How to Recover from a DUI Conviction). If your conviction is in a State other than Colorado, we recommend reaching out to an attorney in that State to see if you have the option of expungement/sealing, but at the moment, it is not possible in Colorado.
Occasionally you may be able to get a “deferred sentence”, however. This doesn’t happen in Boulder County, but in surrounding areas it does. Here’s how it works: you plead guilty and you’re put on probation. If you successfully complete the probation, you can withdraw your guilty plea and seal the case so it is not available to the general public. This is the optimal scenario, because the DUI or DWAI would not show up in your background check once it is sealed.
So, generally speaking, if you plead guilty and are convicted of DUI or DWAI, it will be on your record permanently (unless you can get the DA to dismiss it, which is practically unheard of).
Get Out Ahead of Your DUI
If you have a DUI or DWAI in your past and you’re applying for jobs, there are still action steps you can take to minimize your sentence in the DUI case and may also have a positive impact on your job search. I have heard of people going to the extreme to demonstrate their willingness to get clean and their commitment to turning things around. If that is you, here’s what you do:
- Get yourself into a residential alcohol program, if possible. One person I heard about checked herself into a 28-day live-in facility for alcohol treatment. When she successfully completed the program, she got a written letter from their office, stating that she had made significant progress.
- See a therapist. Individual therapy is a good way to demonstrate your dedication to “turning things around.” It may also increase the likelihood of making progress with any alcohol issues, since it will be tailored to you. Frequently, people have a dual diagnosis, e.g., in addition to addictive issues, there may be another mental health issues, e.g., depression, etc. The individual therapist will be able to address both issues. Alcohol counseling associated with convictions will generally only address the addiction issue. Have your therapist write a letter of recommendation on your behalf that you could potentially share with a new employer, should the need arise.
- Submit to random testing. One person allowed himself to be randomly tested over a period of months (even though it wasn’t required by the Court) in order to get a record of his sobriety over time following the DUI conviction.
- At a minimum, attend AA meetings or other counseling. This will likely be required by the Court if you are convicted of a DUI.
These ideas are used by many people to demonstrate to the Court that the person is taking the case seriously and is addressing the issue to obtain a more favorable sentence; however, it could also help in the employment area. Depending on how seriously you think the potential employer will take the DUI conviction and how comfortable you feel handing over the information, you can share all this with them. Most people believe in second chances, if you give them enough proof of your ongoing determination to make a change.
If you would like assistance in determining the best path forward for your DUI or DWAI conviction (or upcoming trial), call our office right away at 303-449-1873 for a complimentary consultation.